Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The wedding _ Lights, Camera, Action
The wedding _ Lights, Camera, Action
There is a very interesting story “twist” to Kay and Tyler’s wedding. As you look at the picture at the top of this blog, you will notice the sound boom, and professional camera. You may think this is just the normal wedding video crew, but you would be wrong. This is one of the two film crews from NOVA TV, a national Bulgarian network. They were filming the entire wedding because – in addition to being “rock star” Peace Corps Volunteers – Kay and Tyler are going to be TV stars this Fall here in Bulgaria. Kay and Tyler, plus two other members of our B25 group have been “hired” to be the lead characters in a unique TV show.
The concept for this show is very positive, and it uses Peace Corps Volunteers in an appropriate way. As volunteers when we first meet Bulgarians, there are several questions we expect to hear. Things like – “where do you live?”, How long have you been in Bulgaria? Why did you come to Bulgaria? and Do you like Bulgaria? The last two questions hit upon the very negative perception Bulgarians have of Bulgaria. They have a problem understanding why anyone would come to Bulgaria because so many of their friends and relatives are leaving! And – many Bulgarians don’t like many things about their country, and expect that the volunteers would feel the same way. But – to the surprise of most Bulgarians, Peace Corps Volunteers here love Bulgaria. It is a beautiful country, with wonderful people. That does not mean we don’t get frustrated with culture and things here. However, we have learned how to see beyond all that. It is kind of like how Lynn and I love to take the trains here. Although there are often dilapidated houses and factories right next to the tracks, I don’t see those any more. I only see the mountains and beautiful fields in the background. The idea for the TV series is to show Bulgaria to Bulgarians through a “non-Bulgarians’” eyes. We don’t know the title yet, and it will not start until October. But most of the volunteers think it is a great idea. The story of how all this got started is also interesting.
Some of you who have been keeping up with this blog may recall how I talked about the B25 talent show during our Close of Service conference in early May. This was the second talent show we had done during our two years here. The day before the show, PC staff told us the hotel management had heard about the show, and would like to watch it. Would that be OK? We said sure. So… during the show, there were six folks in the back. However, those folks were not from the hotel. They were from NOVA TV. I’m not sure how they got the idea. I assume one of the staff with PR connections had mentioned our talent to them. During the show, they got to see some wonderful performances. Almost every talent combined special Bulgarian traditions, culture, and phrases. Whether it was the poem written by Matt, or the songs composed by Cory and Anna, or even the bosa (this is a terrible breakfast drink loved by Bulgarians, and disliked by volunteers ) speed drinking contest. Kay’s contribution to the show was a ten minute video she did which perfectly showed how most of us feel about our lives here. She had video of her village combined with traditional Bulgarian folk music and rock music from a group called “Killers”. When it finished she got a standing ovation, and screams for copies. We all wanted it.
After the show, PC staff told us who the people in the back really were, and that they wanted to talk with many of us. For the next two hours, while we danced, talked, reminisced, and had a beer (or two), the NOVA folks talked to some of us. Kay was one of the people they talked to most. A few weeks later we found out, they had decided four of us, plus one other volunteer who has been here for three years would be part of this show. All five of them are amazing volunteers, who have integrated well, have good language skills, and truly love Bulgaria. They all officially finished their service during the week before the wedding, in order to work on this program.
None of us knows how this will eventually turn out. The camera crew was at the wedding on Saturday. Then, they whisked all of their “potential stars” away to Sofia on Sunday. Monday was the volunteers first official day as NOVA TV performers. Although we don’t know the outcome or impact of this show, I think it is a great example of how the Peace Corps can make an impact in ways that none of us would ever have imagined when we all got on the plane two years ago. While I don’t know if the show will change the perception Bulgarians have about their country, I hope it will start to make some small “in-roads” to crack their negative perception. Maybe this can be the first step toward making Bulgarians see “beautiful Bulgaria” instead of focusing always on the negatives. But – no matter what - having four of our volunteer group involved in this project makes me feel proud to have been part of this Peace Corps experience.
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